When Gmail was introduced on April 1st back in 2004, nobody thought it would set some new standards for webmail systems and e-mail in general. It affected desktop e-mail clients as well, allowing your e-mail to be accessible on every computer with a connection to the Internet.
You could say that Gmail was a start of something that we refer to as cloud computing, right? But we all had e-mail accounts already set up on our own servers, with our own e-mail addresses, so how could we connect those e-mail inboxes with Gmail?
Import Mail From Other Webmail Accounts
Let’s start with the easier solution. Gmail allows you to import mail from other webmail accounts such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL or any other webmail account you might be using. Open up your Gmail inbox and head over to Settings. Once there, click on Accounts and Import tab.
Click on Import mail and contacts link and the pop-up wizard will appear which will ask you what account do you want to import from. Once you enter your e-mail and password, you will have an option to choose what exactly do you want to import. It may take up to two days to completely import your e-mails and contacts from another account.
POP and IMAP Access
In the e-mail world, there are these two protocols called POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). In general, both of them serve as a link between the e-mail client and the e-mail server. The difference between is that IMAP keeps server and client synced, while POP will download your e-mails to your client and remove them from the server (you can choose not to). You can think of IMAP as a constant connection to your e-mail server, where e-mail client is just a tool to see what’s up there.
Gmail can check your e-mail via the POP3 protocol. In the Accounts and Import tab click on the Add a POP3 mail account you own to get to the import wizard. Once set up, you will get your e-mails into your Gmail via POP3 protocol. You should know that POP3 protocol isn’t instant. So head over to the Labs tab and enable Check POP3 inbox button, so you can check for new mail whenever you want it.
Simple Forwarding To Your Gmail
Probably the easiest way to get your e-mails into Gmail is to create a forwarding script which will take all of your e-mail and forward it to your @gmail.com address. You should talk to your hosting company about this, as many different hosters have different policies on forwarding. But once set up, I recommend creating a filter so you can see which message came to which account.
Don’t forget to create a Send mail as alias in your Gmail as well. Once you’ve done all of that, click on the Compose button; now you have the option to send mail from another account.
What is your e-mail client of choice? Are you more web or desktop based?